Established in 1994, the Department of the Treasury's Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) program provides cash awards to banks that increase their investments in community development financial institutions (CDFI) and lending in economically distressed communities. CDFIs are specialized institutions that provide financial services to areas and populations underserved by conventional lenders and investors. In 2005, Treasury provided nearly $10 million in BEA awards. The BEA program has faced longstanding questions about its effectiveness and experienced significant declines in funding in recent years. This report (1) examines the extent to which the BEA program may have provided banks with financial incentives and (2) assesses the BEA program's performance measures and internal controls. To complete this study, GAO reviewed relevant award data; interviewed Treasury, bank, and CDFI officials; and assessed the BEA program's performance measures and internal controls against GAO's standards for effective measures and controls.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of the Treasury||To help ensure the integrity of the BEA award payment process, the Secretary of the Treasury should revise the guidance for reviewing program applications so that program staff are required to (1) geocode property addresses where appropriate and (2) document their efforts to verify property addresses.|